New insights on link between early consumption of cows’ milk and Type-1 diabetes

May 5, 2008

Researchers in Maine report a new explanation for the mysterious link between consumption of cows’ milk protein in infant formula early in life and an increased risk of later developing Type-1 diabetes. A protein in cow’s milk that triggers an unusual immune response appears to be the main culprit, they say. The study is scheduled for the June 6 issue of ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

In the new study, Marcia F. Goldfarb points out that several studies have reported a possible link between the early introduction of cow’s milk protein into an infant’s diet and subsequent development of the disease. In Type-1 diabetes, the immune system erroneously appears to attack and destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It usually begins in childhood, requires insulin injections, and afflicts about 800,000 people in the U.S. alone.

Scientists do not understand the link between cow’s milk and diabetes. They know, however, that beta-lactoglobulin, a protein present in cow’s milk but not found in human breast-milk, is structurally similar to the human protein glycodelin, which controls the production of T-cells. T-cells help guard the body against infection.

Goldfarb describes research on patients with Type-1 diabetes, which suggests that an infant’s immature immune system may inadvertently destroy glycodelin in an effort to destroy the similar cow’s milk protein, which the system recognizes as foreign. This could result in the overproduction of T-cells, which can attack the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas and trigger diabetes, she says.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: If you can't drink cow's milk, what is the best alternative?

Related Stories

If you can't drink cow's milk, what is the best alternative?

September 26, 2017
Cow's milk is naturally rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B-12. It is also a valuable source of vitamins D and A, thanks to fortification. But sometimes cow's milk is not an option due ...

Why asking what causes autism is the wrong question

October 11, 2017
The animal rights charity PETA recently made a link between autism and drinking cow's milk. The article on its website discussed research that linked a diary-free diet with a reduction in symptoms of autism in children. The ...

miRNA identified that plays role in milk allergy

September 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—MiR-193a-5p is a post-transcriptional regulator of interleukin-4 (IL-4) expression and could have a role in children's cow's milk allergy (CMA), according to a study published online Aug. 30 in Allergy.

Australian researchers in peanut allergy breakthrough

August 17, 2017
Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible.

Milk protein detected in some 'cow's milk-free' baked goods

February 16, 2015
(HealthDay)—Some bakery products sold as free of cow's milk may not be safe for those with milk allergies because they still contain milk protein, according to research published online Feb. 4 in Allergy.

Drinking non-cow's milk associated with lower height in children

June 7, 2017
Children who drink non-cow's milk—including other animal milk and plant-based milk beverages—are shorter than children who drink cow's milk, new research suggests.

Recommended for you

Engineered protein treatment found to reduce obesity in mice, rats and primates

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. report that an engineered version of a protein naturally found in the body caused test mice, rats and cynomolgus monkeys to lose weight. In their ...

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

October 19, 2017
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have become the first to keep human brain tissue alive outside the body for several weeks. The researchers, headed by Dr. Niklas Schwarz, Dr. Henner Koch and Dr. Thomas Wuttke at ...

Cancer drug found to offer promising results in treating sepsis in test mice

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A combined team of researchers from China and the U.S. has found that a drug commonly used to treat lung cancer in humans offers a degree of protection against sepsis in test mice. In their paper published ...

Tracing cell death pathway points to drug targets for brain damage, kidney injury, asthma

October 19, 2017
University of Pittsburgh scientists are unlocking the complexities of a recently discovered cell death process that plays a key role in health and disease, and new findings link their discovery to asthma, kidney injury and ...

Study reveals key molecular link in major cell growth pathway

October 19, 2017
A team of scientists led by Whitehead Institute has uncovered a surprising molecular link that connects how cells regulate growth with how they sense and make available the nutrients required for growth. Their work, which ...

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

October 18, 2017
Scars may fade, but the skin remembers. New research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.